Sleeping under the stars is a magical experience. Is it safe to sleep outside without a tent though? Adventurous campers will always seek for new experiences which will allow them to come closer to nature. Sleeping outside without a tent is an activity that not a lot of us have ventured. Either you are a rookie or a veteran camper here you will find tips on how to stay safe and enjoy a tent free night.
Is it safe to sleep outside without a tent?
Sleeping outside without a tent is a great way to come closer to the nature and enjoy the stars. Always carry with you a tarp which can use in case of emergency such as heavy rain. Check the forecast before you head to the mountains to avoid tornadoes.
Spending the night under the stars is not a new ‘trend’. Nomads had to wonder around all day trying to find a shelter but a lot of times they had to sleep outside with their animals. Another great example of people sleeping in the woods under the stars is shepherds. They had to move their animals when they were looking for good forage but usually there was not a shelter for them. They had to spend the night under the stars just covered by their cape.
Advantages of sleeping outside without a tent
View of the stars: the biggest benefit of sleeping outside without a tent is the attraction of the celestial bodies. A clear sky without clouds will definitely enhance our experience because we will be able to enjoy the different colours and constellations.
Quick rest: After a long hike we are just looking for a quick nap so we can continue our trip. We need this boost to fill up with energy and get to the final destination. It can be night time or during the day. The goal is to lie down for a couple of hours and leave immediately. There is no minutes to spare for setting up the tent and camping equipment. Find a safe spot, take out the sleeping bag and enjoy the sky.
Ultralight equipment: Even the lightest of the tents will weight 1-2kg. Replacing them with a hammock and a cannopy or a tarp will reduce the weight of our load. However this is an approach for experienced campers because if you spend long time of period outdoors you will need a tent.
No trace: Sleeping in a tent can sometimes attract attention into you. You might be in an area where you don’t feel safe and sleeping in a minimal shelter is the only choice. Wake up, pack your belongings quickly and continue your trip without leaving any trace.
Is it OK to sleep regularly without a tent?
Specific type of adventurers spend a lot of nights sleeping outside without a tent. Ultralight backpackers will save a few pounds by not carrying a tent with them. Moreover they use alternative solutions to enjoy the stars and being protected from mild weather elements and animals. They carry with them just the tent poles and the mesh which will protect them from wind and insects.
Another alternative solution is to have with you a hammock canopy which you can use if it starts raining or if you want to avoid sleeping on the ground.
Apart from traditional backpackers, cyclists want to carry with them only the essentials and quite often especially in warm months they prefer to leave their tent in the shed. However they will pack an alternative solution to protect them from rain or animals.
Safety tips for a tentless night
Getting rid of the tent will expose you to weather elements and insects. Sleeping tentless in the woods or dessert can be fun and safe if you plan ahead. Tips for sleeping safely under the stars without a tent:
Check the weather forecast
Sleeping in the woods without a tent will expose you to rain, wind, thunderstorms and other extreme weather conditions. Especially if you are inexperienced you need to check the weather forecast of your camping spot. Checking for any weather warnings in advance can help you to avoid putting yourself in danger.
Campers who are experienced with bushcraft will be able to build a shelter quickly with their surroundings but rookies will feel vulnerable. They might end up in a cave or under a bush trying to stay dry. However these two types of shelter are not advisable unless you know the area very well.
Keeping wildlife away from your sleeping spot
Rule number one: Keep your sleeping area clean from food. Even food crumbs will attract animals from miles. Trash, leftovers, dirty dishes, rubbish will attract wildlife. Store food in air tight containers and put the rubbish into Ziplock bags.
Rule number two: Check the area for any footprints. Animals will find a safe shelter to build their nest. We always try to find a safe shelter to spend our night as well.. That means where we plan to camp might be a popular area for animal’s nest. If there is footprints in the area don’t risk it and search for a new camping spot. Make sure you carry with you a sleeping bag or mesh because other type of animals like critters and mosquitoes can harm you as well.
Rule number three: Don’t wash the dishes close to your sleeping area. You might feel safe because you stored your food and rubbish properly and cleaned the dishes. Even the tiniest crumb can attract wolfs, bears or mountain lions. Wash your dishes far away from your sleeping spot to eliminate the chance of attracting unexpected‘visitors’.
Keep safe distance from water source
There are a lot of reasons to stay away from water if you don’t know very well the area. A lot of predators live in the water and the new scent in the area might attract them. Water level also might increase drastically during the night and cause a flood. Even if you check the weather forecast and seems to be no rain in the area water level can increase due to extreme weather conditions in a different area.
Small streams can become torrents within minutes and river banks won’t be able to hold the extra amount of water. Moreover extreme rain in previous days or ice melting can cause a lake to flood and put your life in danger. We should always make sure the area is safe before spending the night under the stars.
Pack an alternative type of shelter
You can build your own shelter if you feel unsafe. However you need to carry with you a bushcraft hand saw. Find a few wooden sticks cut them down to the correct size and use branches, leaves and moss to make your shelter wind and water tight. Branches and leaves can provide a nice underlayer for a comfortable sleep.
Don’t forget to carry with you a camping tarp. It’s a very cheap and ultralight survival tool. You can tight it up to the trees or use a few wooden sticks to build water tight shelter which will keep you dried.
Of course a sleeping bag is probably the most essential tool when you plan to sleep outside. Packing in a sleeping bag before each excursion it can guarantee a warm night under the stars.
In case of heavy winds try to find a place close to rocks which will act as wind breaker. Otherwise you can sleep on a flat surface between bushes which will provide a shelter from the wind.
Go camping without a tent is absolutely safe. If it’s your first time you need to be more careful and always have a backup plant. Try it first in your back garden in order to feel comfortable with sleeping without a roof.